For a heart healthy diet, don't fixate on fat

The longstanding advice to eat less fat (especially saturated fat) in an effort to lower heart disease risk caused Americans to eat more low-fat deli meats, chips, and cookies, fat-free sweetened yogurt, white rice, refined cereals, bread, and other highly processed carbohydrates. That dietary shift led to rising rates of diabetes and obesity, which also boost the risk of cardiovascular disease. Experts now urge people to worry less about limiting saturated fat in their diets and to focus more on eating a variety of whole or minimally processed foods.  More »

Ask the doctor: Atrial fibrillation vs. atrial flutter

Atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation are heart-rhythm disorders that trigger palpitations and lightheadedness. While atrial flutter causes a rapid but regular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation is marked by a rapid but chaotic, unpredictable heartbeat.  (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Statins and the risk of diabetes

Statins may raise blood sugar levels in a small number of people, possibly triggering a diagnosis of diabetes. But the overall benefit of statins in treating heart disease outweighs any slight increase in the risk of diabetes.  (Locked) More »

Learning hands only CPR could help save a loved one's life

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can double or triple a person’s odds of surviving cardiac arrest, which happens when the heart beats fast and erratically or stops completely. After calling 911, doing CPR can keep blood circulating until emergency responders arrive. The basic action is simple: push hard and fast in the center of the chest, using the beat of the disco hit “Stayin’ Alive” to guide your timing. Blowing into the person’s mouth (rescue breathing) isn’t necessary. Because four of five cardiac arrests happen at home, the life you save is likely to be someone you love.  (Locked) More »

Pain relief that's safe for your heart

The popular painkillers known as NSAIDs include over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) and the prescription drug celecoxib (Celebrex). All NSAIDs except aspirin may slightly increase the risk of a heart attack, but naproxen appears to be the least risky. People with heart disease should first try nondrug approaches to pain, such as heating pads or ice, followed by aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) before resorting to naproxen.  More »

Should you consider a coronary artery calcium scan?

A coronary artery calcium scan uses a special x-ray machine that can reveal specks of calcium in the walls of the heart’s arteries, an early sign of cardiovascular disease. These tests aren’t appropriate for people who have a very low risk of heart disease or who already have it, because the results are unlikely to change their treatment. But for people who fall somewhere in the middle, a calcium scan may be helpful in deciding whether to take a statin. (Locked) More »

New guidelines update treatment of atrial fibrillation

New guidelines for treating atrial fibrillation (afib) recommend considering the new oral anticoagulant drugs apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto). Compared with warfarin, these drugs are just as effective for preventing a stroke (a serious risk with afib) but are less likely to cause dangerous bleeds in the brain. Other updates include less reliance on aspirin for clot prevention and a newer risk score to better predict a person’s risk of complications from afib.  (Locked) More »

Easing depression and anxiety in people with heart disease

A phone-based counseling program to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorder in people hospitalized for heart disease led to improvements in mental health and fewer, less severe symptoms of heart disease. The program included information and counseling, initially in the hospital and later via phone. Participants also received antidepressants as needed, coordinated through primary care providers.  (Locked) More »

Faster stroke treatment leads to better results

When a person having a stroke arrives at the hospital, the faster he or she is treated, the better. An initiative to shorten the “door-to-needle” time increased the percentage of people treated within an hour from less than 30% to just over 53%.  (Locked) More »

Weight-loss surgery for uncontrolled diabetes

People with obesity and uncontrolled diabetes who underwent weight loss surgery lost much more weight, had better blood sugar control, and used fewer diabetes medications than people treated with medications alone.  (Locked) More »